at war

The Culture Fights Back project to share stories of artists and civil society representatives who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In this section, you can find out more about how Ukrainian directors, actors, editors, and film producers protect their country in its most difficult time.

Helena Maksyom

Helena Maksyom is a Ukrainian film director and documentarian. She voluntarily joined the National Guard of Ukraine to fight against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while showcasing the truth about the conflict. 

Before the war, Helena, alongside her Romanian colleague  Adrian Pîrvu, filmed her first feature-length documentary Everything Will Not be Fine (2020) about the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe. It won the award for Best Ukrainian Feature Film and Best Director at the Odesa International Film Festival in 2020. 

From the first days of full-scale war, Helena became a volunteer, helping in the evacuation of people from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Donetsk regions, delivering humanitarian aid, and documenting the reality of war. She realized there was more she could do to fight the aggressor, and so, without any previous military experience, signed up to a volunteer battalion. 

“It was a deliberate decision, albeit a quick one. That’s how I ended up in the ranks of the National Guard. In the first days we got to Luhansk oblast – that is, we got immediately into hell. Everything became clear. But not everything is easy for me to talk about.”

On the front line, Helena documents the work of Ukrainian soldiers who live under constant shelling, helps to find key supplies, and evacuates those wounded in action. Helena also writes in English via Facebook, informing the international community about war and life on the front. You can read her posts via the following link.

Olena Maksyom Facebook-page